Jey Uso Wins Andre Battle Royal, WrestleMania Hype and More SmackDown Fallout
The final SmackDown before WrestleMania 37 was a light show in terms of action. We only had three matches, but two of them featured most of the male Superstars who aren't booked to perform on Saturday or Sunday.
Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler defended the SmackDown Tag Team Championship in a Fatal 4-Way match against Otis and Chad Gable, Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins and the Mysterios.
The sole women's bout Friday saw Tamina take on Nia Jax. Shayna Baszler and Natalya were at ringside, and most of the other competitors in the women's tag title scene appeared backstage for a brawl.
Lastly, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal took place on SmackDown instead of WrestleMania this year.
The rest of the show was filled with video packages and promos from Daniel Bryan, Edge and Roman Reigns to hype their upcoming Universal Championship showdown.
Let's take a look at some of the biggest moments from the go-home episode of SmackDown before WrestleMania.
Edge, Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan Give Their Final Thoughts
Bryan came to the ring at the top of the show to talk about how there is nothing better than winning a title at WrestleMania and how he plans to do that again Sunday.
He gave a passionate promo and said he will be the most dangerous he has ever been. The Yes Man promised to defeat Edge and Reigns to bring home the gold.
At the halfway point in the show, Edge gave a promo about returning to WWE after years away so that he could main-event WrestleMania one more time.
He claimed Bryan is trying to take his moment and used sympathy to weasel his way into the match. He said Reigns patterned his career after his own and even uses the same finisher. He called Reigns "Samoan Edge."
The Rated-R Superstar got heated when he spoke about what it took for him to return. At the end of the night, it was Reigns' turn to speak.
He complained about having to defend his title in a match wherein he doesn't have to be pinned to lose the belt. He took credit for making SmackDown the A-show and turning the Universal Championship into the title everybody wants.
The Tribal Chief promised to do violent things to Edge and Bryan. All three men gave contrasting promos. It was an effective way to cap this story before the match without having them get physical.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode Retain Tag Titles
The SmackDown tag title bout got started when Roode and Ziggler attacked Dawkins and Ford backstage. This led to Alpha Academy and the Mysterios getting involved too.
This match was left off the WrestleMania card in favor of giving the go-home episode of SmackDown at least one championship contest. While this could be looked at as a step down from being on the PPV, it's better than the tag team division being ignored.
Even though the storylines have been weak, SmackDown's tag title scene boasts some great talent. Alpha Academy has gotten better each week, the Mysterios have a fun father-son dynamic we don't often see, The Street Profits are always entertaining and the champions are two of the most reliable workers on the roster.
This match had some good sequences and a few standout spots. The energy was high, and everybody appeared to want to make sure they looked like they belonged at WrestleMania.
It seemed like Ford was going to win the belts for his team with a huge frog splash to Gable, but Ziggler and Roode were able to steal the win to retain.
Considering this show was sort of the unofficial start to WrestleMania weekend, a title change would have been ideal. It would have gotten people talking and given the event a more unpredictable vibe. The match was fun, but it was a missed opportunity.
Jey Uso Wins Andre the Giant Battle Royal
The final match of the night was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. WWE moved this bout from the WrestleMania card to Friday's show as a time-saving measure.
Everybody teamed up on Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander to throw them out early. Mustafa Ali even worked with his former Retribution teammates momentarily to make it happen.
The final four competitors in the ring were Jey Uso, Ricochet, Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura. Uce superkicked Ricochet out to bring it down to three.
Nakamura took out The King before he went after Uso with a barrage of kicks to the body and head. But even after enduring a Kinshasa to the face, Uso threw out Nakamura to score the win.
Even though this wasn't on the WrestleMania card, it was still nice to see Uso rewarded for all of the hard work he has done alongside Reigns in recent months. It would have been nice to have this moment with fans present, but it was the right call for him to win nonetheless. The Head of the Table came out and congratulated him on his victory.
It will be interesting to see whether WWE gives him a substantial push after this or if he returns to being the guy who loses to whomever Reigns is feuding with at the time.
Final WrestleMania Buildup
As the final show before WrestleMania on Saturday and Sunday, SmackDown made sure to address several feuds that will populate the pay-per-view card.
Rollins released an attack ad against Cesaro that was reminiscent of the political commercials we see during election season.
Big E talked about his Intercontinental Championship match from a barber's chair and in front of Raymond James Stadium, where WrestleMania will take place.
We also saw Tamina and Jax battle in a singles bout that led to a backstage fight involving most of the teams who will compete for a women's tag title shot at WrestleMania.
What we saw with Jax and Tamina was filler, but the videos from Big E and Rollins were outstanding. The Messiah's message about Cesaro had the right level of humor, while Big E's promo was as energetic and passionate as it gets.
With more than a dozen matches scheduled for WrestleMania, WWE has had a tough time making every feud feel important. Somehow, the show with only two hours every week has managed to offer better storylines and more satisfying character developments than the three-hour program.
Even if the buildup has been a little lackluster in some areas, all that matters is the quality of the PPV. Everybody always tries their best for WrestleMania, so we should be in for some awesome action Saturday and Sunday.